First World Problems

Honestly, hamburgers can be a tricky business.  My daughter was fixing her cheeseburger on Saturday night.  She had just put all the condiments on when the meat slid right out of the bun on to her plate.  Immediately, she said in jest “that’s a first world problem.”  I couldn’t contain my laughter as it has been a while since I heard this phrase.  This morning I decided to Google the phrase to see the various responses.  Here are a few good ones.

“I’m tired, but I don’t want to walk up the two flights of stairs from my entertainment room to my master bedroom.”

“I left the remote on the other side of the room.”

“My shampoo and conditioner never run out at the same time.”

“I don’t know what shoes to wear with this dress.”

“My hand is too fat to shove into the Pringles container so I am forced to tilt it.”

Ok, they are pretty ridiculous.  However, I think we can honestly say that we have complained about these very situations if not ones that are even sillier.  Thus is the life of most of us born in America.  We are born into relative ease.  Our problems oftentimes revolve around comfort rather than sacrifice – “oh no one of my ear buds isn’t working” (yes, I am personally guilty).  We have such agonizing decisions about what to wear or buy (just too many types of ice-cream).  Oh, we have such a difficult life.

The truth of the matter is that we laugh at these statements yet never truly reflect on them.  We are incredibly blessed in the United States while at the same time complaining the most.  Interesting?  We have everything people could physically want while at the same time complaining that we are inconvenienced or “suffering.”  I do a fair bit of counseling as a pastor.  Oftentimes, there are serious issues related to death, addiction, and relationships.  Yet, there are also cases where the issue could be classified as a first world problem.  Sadly, I am equally guilty of these same complaints.  Oh, how sad of me to lament about such trivialities when a majority of the world, present and throughout history, would love to stand in our shoes.  Famines, human trafficking, brain cancer, bombed out villages – those are legitimate problems.  So, why do we do fall victim to trivial complaints?

Let me offer two reasons.  First, I think we have come to expect a cushy life.  We have grown accustomed to having not only all of our needs provided for but also many of our wants.  As a result, we have redefined blessings around wants rather than needs.  In fact, it is not uncommon for us to define blessings as the really big wants.  Everything else is expected.  We take it for granted.  Clothing is not a blessing; a Macy’s blouse is a blessing.  When blessings become defined as a luxury, it makes perfect sense that we would complain about everything else in life since it is expected.  Maybe we need to redefine blessings back to it being the basic needs in life.

Second, we are a thankless people.  It is becoming increasingly uncommon to hear someone say, “Man, I am so thankful for life.”  There is always something we can find that is wrong.  And this half-empty perspective sours our perspective.  It leads to complaints about small things because we are looking for what is wrong rather than what is good.  We wake up with dread rather than anticipation.  To be honest, it really is about perspective.  Maybe we need to approach each day with a little more optimism while keeping our inconveniences in perspective.

Jesus encouraged us to have such a perspective when we taught us to pray,

‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’

It is simple, basic, and grounded.


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